Next to Mickey Mouse, the castles found in Disney parks around the world are the most iconic symbols of the Disney empire. Drawing from real-life castles from Europe, throughout the past decades Disney’s Imagineers have created castles of every shape and size that have captured the hearts of millions world-wide.
Designed to be a visual magnet (Walt Disney used the word “weenie”) to draw Guests into the center of the parks, the castles are probably the most photographed buildings in the world. My own trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom have produced hundreds of images of the castles in all different types of lighting (both natural and artificial) and seasonal decorations. These photographs have served as two-dimensional reminders of my visits.
Last spring, my regular LEGO VIP email contained a tantalizing hint that the design and production of a LEGO Disney castle had been underway for months, and was being readied for a Fall release. At that time, the final planning of the Adams Family Adventure to Walt Disney World was in its final stages, and I thought that this amazing LEGO set would make a great visual reminder of our family’s trip.
As promised, the Disney Castle was released early to VIP members in August, and this huge box remained hidden in a corner of my office until Christmas. As we gathered to celebrate Christmas (in person and virtually, thanks to FaceTime), all 15 of us opened a small package containing a LEGO Disney mini-figure, and then the grandchildren physically present unwrapped the mysterious package wrapped in Mickey Mouse Christmas paper.
LEGO building sets have been around our house for over 30 years. With four children, we have accumulated tens of thousands of pieces in tubs stored in our garage. Now when our four grandchildren come over, they always look forward to pulling out a tub or two and building creations of their own design.
The Disney Castle was the biggest single LEGO project we had ever built. We weren’t fast, but we were very thorough! My daughter, who works at a medical school on break for the holidays, was able to stay for the week between Christmas and New Years. The three of us worked in close quarters on a table in the family room, listening to Disney music and watching Disney movies while working. We not only shared lots of fun times, we even shared a cold!
The completed castle now occupies a corner of our family room, along with some of our favorite images of our family trip to Walt Disney World. It awaits future visits of our grandchildren, to create new stories and memories of their own imagination.
What does all this have to do with Guest Experiences?
I could talk about the importance of creating memory links, or about involving multiple senses, or highlighting the importance of architecture in your physical spaces, or about partnering in new ways to get your message across, or a dozen more.